Bush denies there's civil war in Iraq
U.S. President George W. Bush denied on Saturday there was a civil in Iraq, despite a Pentagon report admitted a day earlier that sectarian violence was spreading in the war-torn country and that the overall attacks and daily Iraqi civilian casualties had increased significantly.
In his weekly radio address, Bush repeated mostly what he had said at the annual national convention of the American Legion, a veterans' group, in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Thursday.
The war on terrorism, he said, "is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century."
Bush said the United States fought terrorists overseas so it did not have to face them at home, and warned that countries harboring "terrorists" were regarded "as guilty as the terrorists ... an enemy of the United States" and would "be held to account."
"Our commanders and diplomats on the ground believe that Iraq has not descended into a civil war," he said.
Saying that those calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq "could not be more wrong," Bush warned that if American troops "were to pull out before Iraq can defend itself, the consequences would be disastrous."
"If we give up the fight in the streets of Baghdad, we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities," he said.
In a congressionally-mandated quarterly report, the Defense Department said on Friday that the overall attacks in Iraq rose 24percent to 792 each week and the daily Iraqi civilian casualties increased by 51 percent to nearly 120 over the past three months.
The core conflict in Iraq had changed from a battle against insurgents into a fight between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, and conditions that could lead to civil war existed in Iraq, the report said.
The United States has increased the number of its troops in Iraq to 140,000 over the past five weeks, with some 15,000 deployed in Baghdad, mainly due to increased violence in the Iraqi capital. Enditem
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